02 SES 09 B, Learning and Adaptation of Students and Apprentices
After school, most adolescents continue their education and training on the upper secondary level in a company-based apprenticeship program (SBFI, 2013). This school-to-work transition entails a significant change in an adolescent’s life, as they start working in a training company as newcomers. Like any newcomer, they are required to adapt to regulations and norms of the company and meet existing expectations. To gain access to the various resources of the company which will ensure successful learning and development, it is crucial for the apprentices to become socially integrated into the work group. This progress relies to a considerable extend on the adolescent’s social competences (Nägele & Neuenschwander, 2016). In this paper, we report on a study that looks at the process of social integration within the first weeks of an apprenticeship, based on weekly self-report surveys.
A key point to be considered is the role of an apprentice that is different from the role of an adult working person. Apprentices have no prior work experience and their social experiences vary from that of an adult. This new situational context they strive to adapt to is characterized by hierarchical structures with age and power structures that are different from the situation they’ve known from school. The apprentices as part of this system can only succeed if they learn how all the business works by gaining access to the work group. Several studies have shown that companies and adolescents are aware of this important situation. There are suggestions available on how to welcome and integrate an apprentice. In a previous study, we also found that the transition from school to the upper secondary education and training in an apprenticeship is a rather smooth process for the vast majority of adolescents (Nägele & Neuenschwander, 2015). Nevertheless, contract changes or cancellations occur, either due to an insufficient performance at the vocational school or by struggling to successfully integrate into the training company (Stalder & Schmid, 2016). It’s also noted that if social difficulties occur and the social integration goes off poorly, this seems to be a process that unfolds within the first months in apprenticeship (Berweger, Krattenmacher, Salzmann, & Schönenberger, 2013). This is in line with research on adult newcomer integration (Kammeyer-Mueller, Wanberg, Rubenstein, & Song, 2013). This being said, we ought not assume that social competences can be simply transferred from school to work as the social situation changes crucially. Social competence is heavily dependent on the current social situation (Nägele & Stalder, 2017).
The purpose of this paper is to gain insight into the adaptation process of adolescents during the first six months within the apprenticeship on a weekly basis and to describe relevant dimensions of the apprentice’s interaction with both their supervisors and trainers as well as working colleagues.
Berweger, S., Krattenmacher, S., Salzmann, P., & Schönenberger, S. (2013). LiSa. Lernende im Spannungsfeld von Ausbildungserwartungen, Ausbildungsrealität und erfolgreicher Erstausbildung. St. Gallen, CH: Pädagogische Hochschule St. Gallen, Institut Professionsforschung und Kompetenzentwicklung. Kammeyer-Mueller, J. D., Wanberg, C. R., Rubenstein, A., & Song, Z. (2013). Support, undermining, and newcomer socialization: Fitting in during the first 90 days. Academy of Management Journal, 56(4), 1104–1124. http://doi.org/10.5465/amj.2010.0791 Nägele, C., & Neuenschwander, M. P. (2015). Passt der Beruf zu mir? Determinanten und Konsequenzen wahrgenommener Passung mit dem Lehrberuf beim Übergang in die Berufsbildung. In K. Häfeli, M. P. Neuenschwander, & S. Schumann (Eds.), Berufliche Passagen im Lebenslauf (pp. 49–74). Wiesbaden, D: Springer Fachmedien. http://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-658-10094-0_3 Nägele, C., & Neuenschwander, M. P. (2016). Apprentice–trainer relationship and work group integration in the first months of an apprenticeship. Empirical Research in Vocational Education and Training, 8(1), 4. http://doi.org/10.1186/s40461-016-0030-3 Nägele, C., & Stalder, B. E. (2017). Competence and the need for transferable skills. In M. Mulder (Ed.), Competence-based vocational and professional education. Bridging the worlds of work and education (pp. 739–753). Cham, CH: Springer International Publishing. SBFI. (2013). Facts and figures. Vocational and professional education and training in Switzerland 2011. Bern, CH: Staatssekretariat für Bildung, Forschung und Innovation SBFI. Stalder, B. E., & Schmid, E. (2016). Lehrvertragsauflösung und Ausbildungserfolg - kein Widerspruch. Bern, CH: hep verlag.
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